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Pushback Against Proposed Ordinance To Force LA Hotel Owners Give Vacant Rooms to Homeless

‘It’s the worst of all options as it relates to solving homelessness in the city of LA’

By Evan Symon, August 5, 2022 12:40 pm

Hotel owners and workers in Los Angeles continued their push against a proposed ordinance on Friday that would force hotels in Los Angeles to give vacant rooms to the homeless.

The proposed ordinance dates back to April 2020 with Project Roomkey, a statewide program that gave hotel room vouchers to the homeless during the pandemic to help keep them off the streets and away from exposure to COVID-19. However, the program quickly spiraled out of control, with hotels quickly seeing well more than half of the paid-for rooms sitting empty. Many rooms that were filled were damaged, with some homeless scaring away paying guests with drug use, fighting, and other dubious behavior. With the state doing little to set hotels at ease, many quickly pulled out of the program. By the time the project ended in September, $100 million of state funds had been spent to house less than 5,000 people for only a few months.

Despite the programs’ failure, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti brought back the program the next year on a smaller scale, funded by FEMA. While this version was slightly more successful, largely due to the federal dollars putting stricter measures on the program, the end of COVID-19 restrictions have led to a phasing out of the program this year, with many hotels either already have removed those under the program or will do so in the coming weeks.

With many homeless now coming back out onto the street, a new ordinance was crafted that would create a significantly altered program. Under the proposed ordinance, every hotel in Los Angeles would have to tell the city each day how many vacant hotel rooms there are available. Vouchers from the city would then be given to those to stay in the rooms. Because of the cost to the city, the cheapest available hotel rooms would be used, not rooms at more expensive hotels. However, hotels chosen would have little choice but to accept the vouchers regardless.

While proponents have said that this will help alleviate the homeless issue and fill the gap left by previous voucher programs, many more have come out in opposition, led by hotel owners. Many fear room damage, danger to guests, lost business due to guests not wanting to stay next to potentially dangerous people, and having to act as impromptu social workers.

‘Worst of all options as it relates to solving homelessness in the city of LA.’

“They’re forcing us to accept people whom we would otherwise might not rent to,” explained Charles Chung, a motel owner in Los Angeles who will likely see homeless come with vouchers if the ordinance is passed. “I get a lot of people, families, staying week to week as a temporary place between apartments. If I accept the vouchers, and they come before them, I’m not only losing out on long-term business, but I’m having to throw out a family to the street who otherwise could pay.”

“And it’s not only that. What about room damages? I doubt they have a card to leave on file for that. What if paying guests come past 2 p.m. and ask for a room for the night. Do we give them a vacant room? Or do we have the homeless person come in instead? That is a major potential issue that isn’t addressed in the ordinance. Either way, we have someone yelling at us for not having a room for them.”

“And that’s not even getting into worse what-ifs like drugs or violence or other bad things. Guests won’t feel safe. This ordinance has way too many holes in it to even be considerable.”

Other hotel owners agreed.

“We are not equipped to handle some of the issues that arise with the unhoused,” said hotel owner and NE Los Angeles Hotel Owner’s Association president Ray Patel. “I am not saying all homeless people will cause problems, but it’s been known to occur and we can’t guess.”

The ordinance will be heard on Friday before the Los Angeles City Council, who will either vote to put it into law immediately or send it to voters in November. Many City Council members spoke out against the bill in the past few days, including Councilman Joe Buscaino who raised concerns about the ordinance hurting the tourism industry and how it would negatively affect hotel workers and guests alike.

“What the measure does is hurts our tourism industry, which we heavily rely on, in a time when we are getting ready for the Olympics,” said Buscaino on Thursday. “This is the dumbest measure I’ve seen in my 10 year tenure as a City Council member. It’s the worst of all options as it relates to solving homelessness in the city of LA.”

The LA City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance on Friday.

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2 thoughts on “Pushback Against Proposed Ordinance To Force LA Hotel Owners Give Vacant Rooms to Homeless

  1. I think I heard Dem L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino pipe up in response to this proposal that it was, by far, the DUMBEST idea he had heard in all of his years on the council. Can’t argue with that kind of good common sense! And glad to see there is pushback from hotel owners here! Push back MORE! This is obviously insane. Too many issues to cover about why it is a HORRIBLE idea. L.A. City Council wants full-on communism. Most people in L.A. do not. And… in the meantime, there will be more yecchh factor associated with this stinker of an idea than just these specific hotels, or L.A. hotels, or whatever, if they are forced to host vagrants. It could turn tourists off to the idea of ALL hotels and motels eventually. I feel kind of yecchh just reading about it. And that’s because, as they used to say in advertising, when Dole makes an ad to sell bananas, the sale of ALL bananas rises. Sorry, Dole, to associate you with the stupidity of L.A. City Council and the disgusting filth & etc these idiots seek to increase for L.A. and its hotels.

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